(Dr. krishan Bir Chaudhary)
The landslide victory of the Bahujan Samaj Party led by its leader Mayawati in Uttar Pradesh is significant. It is a reflection of the voice of the people in the country’s largest state.
The poll verdict has sounded a note of caution to the ruling UPA coalition at the Centre that people are no longer prepared to buy the concept of 9% growth rate in GDP. They know for certain that this growth figure hardly matters anything for them.
They know that 9% growth reflects the benefits cornered by the rich few – corporate houses, multinational corporations, traders and urban rich and upper middle class. They are rather concerned over the increasing number of loss of jobs and unemployment and rise in prices of essential commodities.
Government policies in the name of "reforms" and "economic liberalisation" have created a crisis in Indian agriculture and pushed farmers to acute point of distress. Incidences of farmers’ suicides are on the increase in various parts of the country.
In Uttar Pradesh farmers do not get remunerative prices for their produces. The erstwhile Mulayam Singh government did nothing to resolve the farmers’ problems. Rather the state government used its mechanism to gift fertile farm lands to companies like Reliance by acquiring from farmers at a cheap rate. Law and order was at a stake ushering in a goonda raj – rule by muscle power. The poor were, therefore, the worst suffers.
Government deliberately kept the minimum support prices (MSPs) for various crops low. Its policies helped the corporate houses and multinational corporations which procured farmers’ produces by paying at a rate nominally higher than the MSPs and stockpiled the grains to create a situation of artificial scarcity and consequent rise in prices, severely affecting the common man. Manipulations in futures market also skyrocketed the prices. Weekly price inflation rate measured on point-to-point movement of wholesale price index at a point of time touched 6.74%.
People in May 2004 dislodged the NDA coalition at the Centre led by the Bharatiya Janata Party, giving clear verdict against its pro-rich and anti-farmer policies. People refused to buy the NDA’s concept of "India Shining" and "feel good factor". Unfortunately the present UPA coalition at the Centre led by Congress is following almost the same policies of the erstwhile NDA government. It may meet the same fate of the NDA government, if it does not amend its policies.
Both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party have suffered miserably at the UP polls. The Bhujan Samaj Party which called for social justice and equality could successfully encash on situation and bounce back to power with a thumping majority. Congress had recently conceded defeat in Punjab and Uttaranchal. It is time for the party to rethink its policies if it intends to regain peoples’ support
(Editorial : Farmers' Forum Magazine)